There’s easy way to make a move

Moving by the numbers: 43-million Americans move each year. 21-million Americans move between May and September. 10.8-million American children under 18 move each year. 12 Average number of times people move, or about once every seven years. 17% – Percentage of U.S. population who move each year. 45% – are corporate relocations. 45% – are personal moves 10% – are military or government relocations. 6,900 lbs. – Average size of an interstate shipment, the equivalent of six full rooms with appliances.

Before you leave the old home, give the kids an address book to record friends’ names and addresses.

Let the kids take pictures of their old bedrooms. They can use them to set up their new rooms the same way, or just to remember.

Let the kids pack a small suitcase or backpack with toys or games to keep with them.

Kid-proof the new home as soon as you arrive. Put plugs in the sockets, gates across the stairs. Check bedroom and bathroom doors to make sure they don’t lock automatically with a child inside.

Bring the child’s permanent school records with you. Don’t forget

Telephone books for the city you’re leaving.

Your dry cleaning.

The items at the repair shop.

The contents of your safe deposit box.

The address of your new home. You must remember this

The garage door opener. Leave it for the new owners.

When AZ Movers van pulls up at the house across the street, here is some information to offer your new neighbor:

Names and addresses of a couple of nearby modestly priced restaurants, including a pizza place that delivers.

Location of the nearest video rental store, yogurt shop, hardware store, home center (Home Depot, Scotty’s, Builder’s Square) and discount store (Target, Wal-Mart).

Name and number of your plumber and electrician.

Location and phone number of the nearest hospital emergency room.

Trash pickup days.

Where to recycle.

You leave the house and immediately get the uncomfortable feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Perhaps you left the television on or, worse, something cooking on the stove.

Now imagine how you would feel if you were leaving your house for good – moving out of town – and had those worries.

That empty feeling is so common that Mayflower Transit has compiled a list of the most forgotten items in a move. As we approach the summer, traditionally dubbed the “moving season,” it should act as a helpful reminder, if you don’t lose it:

Don’t forget your medical records. Obtain copies of them, including dentist, veterinarian and vaccine/immunization information. If you have kids, you know you’ll need this. Remember, no health records, no school.

Make sure to get official copies of your child’s school records. You may need records with the school’s raised seal.

Pack the phone books from your old town. They can save you money on on directory assistance charges back home.

Don’t forget to complete transactions with local businesses, such as dry cleaning. I love this suggestion. It’s frustrating enough to forget to pick up a suit at the cleaners minutes away. Now think how you’d feel if the cleaners were 500 miles away.

Remember to get important documents from the safe deposit box. It also is a good idea to establish a checking account in your new town about a month prior to your move.

With the right mover, changing your venue won’t be a nightmare

It’s a moving experience, getting your belongings from one house to another. You pray the process goes smoothly and nothing moves you to tears.

Hiring the right company to transport household goods is a key element in making all those moves as worry-free as possible. The wrong choice could cost you money, damaged goods and peace of mind. Most moving pros – the movers and the movees – say a word-of-mouth recommendation from someone who has used the company is about the best way to find a reputable mover. And that’s a key word – reputable.

Gary Frank Petty, president and CEO of the National Moving & Storage Association, said that 12,000 moving companies advertise in the yellow pages of local phone directories across the country. “And there are tremendous variations in quality and professionalism,” according to Petty. “Probably 25 percent are marginal players.”

So doing your homework is essential. As Petty says, “hiring a moving company is very much a ‘buyer beware’ situation.” Trusting customers can get hurt by unscrupulous companies.

Don Wilson, regional manager for motor carrier enforcement of the Public Utilities Commission, said it’s important for consumers to be aware of the requirements the carrier has to meet, including giving a written estimate of costs. Wilson also says customers should know they have the option of purchasing additional insurance.

That is critical in the event of loss or damage. Moving companies are required to carry insurance based on 30 cents per pound per article. That would not be adequate coverage to replace the marble table top that goes crashing down the steps, for instance.

Whether you’re moving in or out of Phoenix AZ, or anywhere else, it is suggested you get competitive bids from at least three companies. “You want to be very careful of movers who focus in on the price. A great deal of discounting goes on in our business,” Petty said. Some companies want volume and will hurry up and get the move done — sometimes with untrained labor — instead of ethical companies that take the necessary time and use professional workers to do a good job. Also, ask for the names and phone numbers of people the companies have recently moved to serve as references.

Jay Duquette, president of Monroeville Moving & Storage Inc. (an agent for Mayflower Transit, Inc.), suggests shopping around because dishonest people are always lurking to take you for a ride.

Packing dishes, books and other items yourself can cut your bill in half. Get boxes from the liquor store or buy them.  Moving experts suggest that homeowners pack and carry valuables such as jewelry themselves.

When it comes to transporting items of great value such as paintings, antiques and the like, people may want to take extra care in making their decision on a moving company. Expertise in professional packing is essential for most people who own costly objects. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, for example, frequently moves musical instruments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars across the country on tour dates and within the Pittsburgh region.

Tri-State Transfer &Storage on the North Side is the company the PSO often calls to do the moving. Tonight after the Symphony Concert at Heinz Hall the company will pack and load about 100 cases that will be off to Wisconsin, Illinois and Texas for the PSO’s 2013 Spring Midwest Tour. This won’t be any run-of-the-mill moving van. The precious musical cargo will be loaded onto a personalized van — with the orchestra’s logo and a likeness of – who else? — Beethoven on the side.

Actually the Symphony’s contract is with Wheaton Interstate Moving, for which Tri-State is an agent. “We look for someone who is sensitive to our needs,” said Joe Beiro, the orchestra manager. “This is like moving fine art — a lot of these instruments are of great value and are irreplaceable because they are unique. Not everyone can satisfy our needs.”

While not everyone has priceless objects to pack — whatever your possessions, they’re yours and they mean something to you. This week Edna Billick moved from one section of North Huntingdon to another. She’s moved four times — including a relocation to Flordia — since 1989. This was her second move with Duquette. Despite packing and unpacking so many times it doesn’t get an easier for her. “It’s rough. You realize you have to take everything. Six weeks before I move I go room by room and box things. A friend takes them to the cellar.” Billick moved the smaller boxes herself and the van took the furniture.

It’s more difficult to pack than unpack. “There’s no deadline, you’re there and can take your time,” Billick said.

Take your time in finding your moving company in the first place. It will be entrusted with your dearest possessions and they should be handled with care.

“You have to know what you’re doing — either you know or you don’t,” said Jim Jamriska, the owner of Tri-State. “You’re not moving someone’s furniture, you’re moving their life.”

Some tips on moving

– Call moving companies phoenix as soon as you know you’re moving.

– Ask for references and written estimate.

– Consider buying extra insurance.

– Pack boxes yourself to save money.

– Pay by certified check rather than cash.

– Contact state or federal agencies with complaints.

Iberian Car Rental Tips

Renting a car in Spain and Portugal is a great way to see the countryside, but some tips are in order.

Most guide books recommend taking collision damage waiver coverage, even if one’s employer or credit card company normally insures against accidents.

This is because local authorities will reportedly hassle, or even retain accident participants until the issue of their insurance coverage is resolved. This can take one or two days out of your vacation, haggling with local authorities and awaiting documentation to be relayed from the U.S., even if you are not personally at financial risk.

Note also that local police authorities will not likely speak English. Consider CDW a worthwhile purchase of trip-interruption prevention, costing about $15 a day when converted to U.S. prices.

Police are reputed to be tough on automobile violations and can demand payment of fines on the spot. Driving within marked speed limits and paying attention to signs, which are easy to follow with their international symbols, can help avoid problems.

The best way to park the car when sight-seeing is to enter a town and proceed to the area called the “Plaza Mayor.” At most of these center city locations, a large parking area is attended by a ticket taker. You pay the attendant for your parking permit and then place it in your dashboard window. Lock the car and take the keys and you are on your way for pedestrian touring.

Never leave valuables or bags exposed to view from the outside when you park. Lock everything in the trunk. At night, most paradores provide parking in private hotel lots, but it is best to take everything to your room. Spain, like many countries, has a vandalism problem, and unscrupulous folk will break your window to get at a bag left exposed on a seat. Most cars are standard-shift; travelers pay extra for the few vehicles with automatic transmissions.

All Aboard America!, among several charter bus rental companies, provides convenient services in Phoenix and Arizona. The counter people  explain the details of the itemized bill to the renter and provide maps on how to get from the rental lot to the main highway. They also have service numbers to call if you get in trouble with the bus.

Don’t forget the ask the lot attendant to show you how the dashboard controls work on a European car. It takes time to figure out and it’s dangerous driving into traffic without knowing what all the buttons are for.

Carpet cleaning tips

Mr. Pigeon’s efforts to find the best method to clean carpets and to find a reputable company to do the work led him down a path strewn with information both helpful and inconclusive.

Sherri Gahring, University of Minnesota extension specialist in textiles and clothing, sent a guide from a trade group, the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR).

The publication’s hints included a few fairly obvious reminders, such as checking firms with the Better Business Bureau, and some the Pigeon should have known, such as asking for references and calling them to see how happy previous clients were with the work. Not surprisingly, ASCR recommended hiring a firm belonging to a professional association with standards for competence and ethics.

The publication was strictly neutral on cleaning methods, saying that each has advantages and limitations, and “no single method is superior to all others.”

ASCR said “steam cleaning” is a misnomer for the hot-water extraction method, in which a “hot water cleaning solution is sprayed onto carpet and immediately extracted {along with the dissolved soil} by a wet vacuum.”

The Host method was described by Fritz Rench, chairman of Host/Racine Industries.

“It’s what we call dry extraction; it’s a very efficient wet cleaner,” Rench said. “It comes with saturated tiny sponges so you have control of the liquid, which means you have control of the soil.”

Rench said that while carpet looks horizontal, the pile is vertical, and “the trick with cleaning a vertical surface is loosening the dirt so you sponge it before it runs deeper into the pile … a carpet dries from the surface, and dirt wicks up.”

He said Host and hot water methods are “equal in cleaning power. There are pluses and minuses to both … either way, if the person {doing the work} knows his stuff, they end up with very happy customers.”

Industry tips

Gahring steered Mr. Pigeon to an industry source, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) in Dalton, Ga., where Michael Hilton of the Department of Technical Services suggested asking the carpet manufacturer to recommend a cleaning method. He said there are five: hot-water extraction, dry absorbent compound (a term for systems such as Host, which is relatively dry), dry foam, rotary bonnet (the Chem-Dry method, for example) and rotary shampoo.

“I would hate to say that one is better than the other,” Hilton said. “We recommend all five.”

Hilton acknowledged that people can rent carpet-cleaning gear, but he said: “None of the manufacturers or CRI recommend any do-it-yourself method other than the dry compound. That is because consumers may have trouble following the instructions.”

Hilton said it’s not uncommon for people to overdo with chemicals.

“If the instructions say add 6 ounces, some people will think 12 ounces is twice as good,” he said.

Hilton recommended hiring cleaners who have formal training and said the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certifies carpet cleaners and their firms. Certified cleaning technicians must complete institute-approved courses, pass a written exam and maintain certification annually.

IICRC-certified firms must employ certified technicians, maintain appropriate licenses, carry adequate insurance, maintain a written complaint procedure and provide continuous education for technicians. Consumers may get names of IICRC-certified firms by calling (800) 835-4624.

Hilton also suggested:

– “You should not pay extra for traffic-lane conditioners or preconditioners. In the IICRC standards, in every single method, preconditioning is a part of the normal process.”

He said he would consider not including preconditioners in the advertised price a bait-and-switch tactic.

– Request proof of training or certification by the person doing the work.

– Request a written, detailed invoice for services to be performed.

– Confirm that the cleaning process is compatible with your Carpets of Dalton Flooring America.

– Find out about insurance or bonding in case of breakage or mistakes.

– If you have chemical sensitivities, find out what materials are used.

Mr. Pigeon’s friend with the Star Tribune’s Fixit said the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended keeping infants and young children off freshly shampooed carpets until they are completely dry. The cleaning chemicals are not suspect, but the shampooing process may be associated with an increased risk of Kawasaki syndrome, Fixit said.

“Until more is known about this mysterious disease and its correlation to freshly shampooed carpets,” Fixit said, “it would be best to keep your baby off the carpet until it has completely dried.”

Cleaning tips

A source who has been a carpet cleaner gave these tips on cleaning:

– Ask about the power of the vacuum; the more power, the shorter the drying time.

– Don’t pay for stain repellent where you don’t need it. Some firms will try hard to sell Scotchgard or other products, but sources said protecting rooms with dark carpet and little likelihood of spills wastes money.

– If rooms are sprayed with Scotchgard, don’t walk on them with socks until the carpet is dry; the socks will soak up the protective fluid.

– Circulate as much air as you can to dry the carpet.

Latest trends in wood flooring

Hardwood’s durability and timeless design make it a desirable choice in many homes. Bonnie Holmes, executive secretary for the National Wood Flooring Association says the cost of hardwood flooring translates to the perception of quality as well as higher resale values for homes.

The Hardwood Council offers architects and builders a series of brochures called “Tips & Techniques,” which specifies grades, characteristics and options available in designing with hardwood.

BORDERING ON CUSTOM

The trend in wood flooring is moving from the pickled stage toward warmer, golden tones on red oak and gray-toned ash. Other popular hardwoods include white oak, maple and Brazilian cherry. Borders and inlaid patterns offer variety and the ability to customize designs.

LAYING LARGER TILE

Floor tile trends, whether ceramic, marble or faux-finish vinyl, are toward using larger repeats. Larger sizes, especially in public areas such as entryways and family living areas, give a better sense of scale, says New York architect Jonathon Cohen. His award-winning Florida house featured 18-inch-square terra-cotta tile on half the floors of the 4000-square-foot open plan.

In the “Concept House,” a 5200-square-foot spec house in the northern Chicago suburbs, builder Orren Pickell chose marble tile for the floors and in the steam shower. The WarmTouch in-floor radiant heat system was used to control the floor temperature. Jim Nolan, Marketing and Technical Services Representative for WarmTouch, says the product’s 1/8″ thickness and versatility in layout design make it suitable for new or remodeling installations.

OLD WORLD IDEAS

Concrete is an ancient building material whose popularity has resurfaced, notably in its use in residential construction.

Another innovative flooring design started with concrete. The unique idea specified by designer Anthony Michael, Chicago, was used in a Park Forest, Ill., house. Rectangular pours of concrete punctuated by smooth, black stones direct the home’s traffic pattern.

The stones, typically used in Japanese gardens, were positioned on lattice boards before the concrete was poured. Mesh wire was laid and the self-leveling concrete allowed to seep over the lattice, surrounding the bottom half of the fiat stones. The stones were set in diagonal and circular patterns to create an individualized look. “The carpenters had fun with the project. It was totally out of their realm of expertise,” says Michael.

Another trend in custom flooring is seen in the high level of design made possible through the use of resilient materials. Mary Docker, Director of Business Development for Amtico, says homeowners want customized treatments because they make a statement about a homeowner’s personality. Stock motifs and borders can be specified as well as custom designs, logos or patterns.

However, personalization is just one of the factors in the popularity of vinyl flooring. Comfort and ease of maintenance are two other advantages. “Our product is not affected by climatic conditions – it won’t crack or chip,” says Docker.

COLORS THAT SAY WELCOME

Color choices in vinyl flooring are leaning toward light, honey shades. There’s a warmer welcome to colors being specified today. Faux finishes, especially slate, with a textural finish, instead of smooth and glossy, are becoming more popular. Floor Trader Mechanicsville is available for advice. Whether it’s a question about installation or color choice, we’re there to help the end user.